Horse [N] [S]

always referred to in the Bible in connection with warlike operations, except Isaiah 28:28 . The war-horse is described Job 39:19-25 . For a long period after their settlement in Canaan the Israelites made no use of horses, according to the prohibition, Deuteronomy 17:16 . David was the first to form a force of cavalry ( 2 Samuel 8:4 ). But Solomon, from his connection with Egypt, greatly multiplied their number ( 1 Kings 4:26 ; 1 Kings 10:26 1 Kings 10:29 ). After this, horses were freely used in Israel ( 1 Kings 22:4 ; 2 Kings 3:7 ; 1 Kings 9:21 1 Kings 9:33 ; 11:16 ). The furniture of the horse consisted simply of a bridle ( Isaiah 30:28 ) and a curb ( Psalms 32:9 ).

These dictionary topics are from
M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition,
published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.

[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary

Bibliography Information

Easton, Matthew George. "Entry for Horse". "Easton's Bible Dictionary". .

Horse. [N] [E]

The most striking feature in the biblical notices of the horse is the exclusive application of it to warlike operations; in no instance is that useful animal employed for the purposes of ordinary locomotion or agriculture, if we except ( Isaiah 28:28 ) The animated description of the horse in ( Job 39:19-25 ) applies solely to the war-horse. The Hebrews in the patriarchal age, as a pastoral race, did not stand in need of the services Of the horse, and for a long period after their settlement in Canaan they dispensed with it, partly in consequence of the hilly nature of the country, which only admitted of the use of chariots in certain localities, ( Judges 1:19 ) and partly in consequence to the prohibition in ( 17:16 ) which would be held to apply at all periods. David first established a force of cavalry and chariots, ( 2 Samuel 8:4 ) but the great supply of horses was subsequently effected by Solomon through his connection with Egypt. ( 1 Kings 4:26 ) Solomon also established a very active trade in horses, which were brought by dealers out of Egypt and resold, at a profit, to the Hittites. With regard to the trappings and management of the horse we have little information. The bridle was placed over the horses nose, ( Isaiah 30:28 ) and a bit or curb is also mentioned. ( 2 Kings 19:28 ; Psalms 32:9 ; Proverbs 26:3 ; Isaiah 37:29 ) In the Authorized Version it is incorrectly given "bridle," with the exception of ( Psalms 32:1 ) ... Saddles were not used until a late period. The horses were not shod, and therefore hoofs are hard "as flint," ( Isaiah 5:28 ) were regarded as a great merit. The chariot-horses were covered with embroidered trappings ( Ezekiel 27:20 ) Horses and chariots were used also in idolatrous processions, as noticed in regard to the sun. ( 2 Kings 23:11 )

[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary

Bibliography Information

Smith, William, Dr. "Entry for 'Horse'". "Smith's Bible Dictionary". . 1901.



1. Names:

The common names are

(1) cuc, and

(2) hippos.

(3) The word parash, "horseman," occurs often, and in several cases is translated "horse" or "warhorse" (Isaiah 28:28; Ezekiel 27:14; Joel 2:4 the Revised Version, margin); also in 2 Samuel 16, where the "horsemen" of English Versions of the Bible is ba`ale ha-parashim, "owners of horses"; compare Arabic faris, "horseman," and faras, "horse".

(4) The feminine form cucah, occurs in Song of Solomon 1:9, and is rendered as follows:

Septuagint he hippos; Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) equitatum; the King James Version "company of horses," the Revised Version (British and American) "steed." It is not clear why English Versions of the Bible does not have "mare."

(5) The word 'abbirim, "strong ones," is used for horses in Judges 5:22; Jeremiah 8:16; 47:3; 50:11 (the King James Version "bulls"). In Psalms 22:12 the same word is translated "strong bulls" (of Bashan).

(6) For [~rekhesh (compare Arabic rakad, "to run"), in 1 Kings 4:28; Esther 8:10,14; Micah 1:13, the Revised Version (British and American) has "swift steeds," while the King James Version gives "dromedaries" in 1Ki and "mules" in Est.

(7) For kirkaroth (Isaiah 66:20), the King James Version and the English Revised Version have "swift beasts"; the English Revised Version margin and the American Standard Revised Version "dromedaries"; Septuagint skiddia, perhaps "covered carriages." In Esther 8:10,14 we find the doubtful words

(8) 'achashteranim, and

(9) bene ha-rammakim, which have been variously translated. the King James Version has respectively "camels" and "young dromedaries," the Revised Version (British and American) "used in the king's service" and "bred of the stud," the Revised Version margin "mules" and "young dromedaries."


2. Origin:

The Hebrew and Egyptian names for the horse are alike akin to the Assyrian. The Jews may have obtained horses from Egypt (Deuteronomy 17:16), but the Canaanites before them had horses (Joshua 17:16), and in looking toward the Northeast for the origin of the horse, philologists are in agreement with zoologists who consider that the plains of Central Asia, and also of Europe, were the original home of the horse. At least one species of wild horse is still found in Central Asia.

3. Uses:

The horses of the Bible are almost exclusively war-horses, or at least the property of kings and not of the common people. A doubtful reference to the use of horses in threshing grain is found in Isaiah 28:28. Horses are among the property which the Egyptians gave to Joseph in exchange for grain (Genesis 47:17). In Deuteronomy 17:16 it is enjoined that the king "shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he may multiply horses." This and other injunctions failed to prevent the Jews from borrowing from the neighboring civilizations their customs, idolatries, and vices. Solomon's horses are enumerated in 1 Kings 4, and the se`irim and tebhen of 1 Kings 4:28 (5:8) are identical with the sha`ir ("barley") and tibn ("straw") with which the arab feeds his horse today. In war, horses were ridden and were driven in chariots (Exodus 14:9; Joshua 11:4; 2 Samuel 15:1, etc.).

4. Figurative and Descriptive:

The horse is referred to figuratively chiefly in Zechariah and Revelation. A chariot and horses of fire take Elijah up to heaven (2 Kings 2:11). In Psalms 20:7; 33:17; and 76:6, the great strength of the horse is recalled as a reminder of the greater strength of God. In James 3:3, the small bridle by which the horse can be managed is compared to the tongue (compare Psalms 32:9). In Job 39:19-25 we have a magnificent description of a spirited war-horse.

Alfred Ely Day

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'HORSE'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.  

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